“Gleaning”

October 1, 2014

Amish corn harvest 9/14 (Photo by Doris High)Amish Corn Harvest

(Photo by Doris High)

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“Gleaning”

“‘When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field when you reap, nor shall you gather any gleaning from your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the stranger: I am the Lord your God’” (Leviticus 23:22).

Modern corn harvest It’s harvest time in our rural area and most harvest scenes involve huge modern machinery; combines and harvest trucks.

But we are blessed to also have living history demonstrated by the old-order farmers who use farming methods in some cases from the 1800’s. The Amish farmers on our road have planted a lot of butternut squash and we have been observing the harvest the last several days. Yesterday I drove by and noted that some of the squash had been harvested but there were still individual pieces at the edge of the fields. That made me think of an ancient practice known as gleaning.

Gleaning is defined as “the act of collecting leftover crops from farmers’ fields after they have been commercially harvested or on fields where it is not economically profitable to harvest.” The large majority of people are so far removed from our agricultural roots yet each of us daily depend on the labors of hard working farmers.

Food gets left in the field for all kinds of reasons. Two big reasons are that mechanical harvesting misses a lot — and sometimes the crops aren’t of high enough quality for supermarket shelves. We have been blessed several times when farmers invite us to glean such as going through the fields after a large commercial tomato harvest.

Linda Tozer of the Society of St. Andrew which advocates the ancient practice of gleaning states, “The statistics are that 96 billion pounds of food — this is pre-consumer food — goes to waste in this country,” (Note: I have no idea how they would get a precise statistic like that! Nevertheless I am sure a massive amount of food is wasted.)

Women gleaning in field Today’s Scriptural command concerning gleaning is found in the Law of Moses. It was intended so that the poor and stranger would have a means of support.  The practice of gleaning is found numerous times in the Old Testament, perhaps most famously in the book of Ruth. “And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, ‘Let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after him in whose sight I shall find favor'” (Ruth 2:2). In an act of generosity and perhaps an expression of his affections to her, Boaz made extra effort to see that her gleanings would be abundant. “Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not reproach her. And also pull out some from the bundles for her and leave it for her to glean, and do not rebuke her” (Ruth 2:15,16).

The Practice:

The farmer was to purposefully leave some of the harvest along the edges of the field as well as the gleanings, that is, the harvest missed the first time through. The field was then open to the poor and aliens so they could collect the remaining grain.

The Principle:

* The diligent farmer was recognized as entitled to the fruit of the harvest he had financed and labored hard to produce. A key Scriptural concept is “the laborer is worthy of his hire.”
* However the poor and the alien had a means of support as well, but had to exercise personal responsibility and diligence in going through the field to collect these remnants from the harvest. Compare that with so much of our present day welfare system!!!

The New Testament applies this concept universally: “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life” (1 Timothy 6:17-19).

Today if you are “rich”, which would be most of us, are you following the Biblical counsel to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share from God’s abundant harvest in our lives with those in need?

If you are “poor” due to a situation out of your control, then God is inviting you to live a life of humility and gratitude as He provides for you through other sources.

If you are poor due to your own irresponsibility, laziness and lack of good stewardship then ask God to help you to be resourceful and ambitious. Place your finances under His control becoming obedient according to the Scriptures. Perhaps you need a faithful accountability partner in which you can give a regular accounting of your finances. You may do well to seek counsel from a church elder or ministry such as Crown Financial. We’re blessed as we hear them six days a week on our local Christian radio station. They have a heart of compassion and a genuine desire to help others in the area of godly stewardship.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we thank You for the way You bless Your people. You richly provide for our needs and supply us with hope that is not diminished by the circumstances of this world. We want to share from our spiritual and material abundance so that we lay up treasure for ourselves in the eternal life that is promised to all believers. Make us aware of opportunities to enrich others with the blessings we receive from You every day. In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.


Here are several days of photos of the squash harvest here on Kraybill Church Road.

Butternut Squash harvest 9/27/14
Saturday afternoon several workers were out in the field on the other side of our road. From a distance I really couldn’t determine what they were doing.

Butternut Squash harvest 9/28/14
On Sunday afternoon I saw the results of their labor. They had removed the squash from the decaying plant and grouped them in neat rows, probably so they could be easily picked up using a horse-drawn wagon.

Butternut Squash harvest 9/29/14
Sure enough Monday afternoon I saw Christian picking up the squash and placing them in boxes on the wagon.

Butternut Squash harvest 9/30/14
Yesterday afternoon they were again working the fields and I stopped by to visit. Christian explained they were cutting off the stems which will help the squash to ripen and as speculated on Sunday he confirmed they were placing the squash in rows to pick them up.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Bringing In The Sheaves”  Video  The Mansion Singers

“It’s Harvest Time”  Video  Crabb Family

Today’s lead photo is taken from a collection of Amish photos by our friend Doris High.


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